Now more than ever companies want to be seen as “green” or environmentally friendly, and this is because the general public is concerned about our climate and environment more than ever. While this is a good thing, many companies are trying to exploit this fact for their own benefit and greenwashing is now a common technique in advertising and marketing. This greenwashing is used to make a company seem concerned about the environment or like their product actively improves the environment and many times this is just plain false information. Although it has been around since the 80s, greenwashing has become so prevalent now that you would be hard pressed to find a product on the shelves at your local supermarket that doesn’t promote its environmental friendliness or downplays the environmental impact.
I believe that this kind of advertising and marketing should be regulated more closely by the federal government because it is blatantly deceiving the customer and using that deception to profit. You may notice a large “RECYCLABLE” label on a drink or maybe a product made of “whatever% recycled material!” or containing “a whole lotta natural ingredients!” but these things often times mean nothing at all. It is far to easy to say and write whatever sounds good instead of being honest with the customer. Also, by greenwashing products that are not environmentally friendly, a company can avoid producing goods that actually ARE environmentally friendly. Why change the product when changing the packaging works just as well for sales?
I believe that the Federal Trade Commission has a responsibility, now more than ever, to regulate environmental advertising. The Green Guide, which the FTC uses as guidelines for regulating environmental marketing hasn’t been updated since 1998. This is unacceptable, especially since so many new discoveries have been made as far as climate change and human impact on the environment since 1998. An interesting look at what updated FTC guidance might look can be found in this article
It’s time to put a stop to greenwashing and it’s time we stopped letting these money hungry corporations manipulate and deceive the American people for their own profit, especially when the victims in these cases are everyone and everything that lives on this planet.